As govt faces criticism, Parrikar says it’s a security issue
With the Opposition and media criticising the government action against NDTV India, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Saturday it was a security-related issue and the channel appeared to have violated guidelines for coverage of terror attacks.
“It is not a ban. They have been asked to put off the channel temporarily for a day,” Parrikar said. “When you show the anti-terror operation live, the handlers of terrorists get the information.... It appears that these guidelines were violated by the channel during the Pathankot attack coverage. It appears like that,” he added.
The minister added: “The guidelines on airing the live anti-terrorist operations were issued by the UPA government after the (26/11) 2008 Mumbai attack. In last five years, there were 21 such incidents wherein different channels violated the guidelines.”
The I&B Ministry had issued an order saying that NDTV India should be taken off air for a day on November 9 after an inter-ministerial panel constituted by the ministry recommended this action over the broadcaster’s coverage of the Pathankot terror attack in January.
However, the ban on the leading Hindi TV channel has drawn sharp condemnation from opposition parties and media bodies which called it “shocking and authoritarian” and reminiscent of Emergency days.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar flayed the government’s decision, terming it as an “insult to freedom of expression.” The Congress said: “It’s a message to entire Indian media — either play ball or get shot.” The CPI-M condemned the ban and termed it a “brazen attack on media freedom and an attempt to gag freedom of expression”.
“It reveals the increasingly authoritarian attitude of the Modi government,” the party said. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said: “Ban on NDTV is an attack on democracy. This country is heading towards dictatorship... There is an emergency-like situation in the country.”